Thiruvananthapuram: Justice M. Fathima Beevi, whose appointment as the first Muslim woman judge of the Supreme Court had inspired women to pursue the legal profession, died at a private hospital in Kerala’s Kollam on November 23. She was 96. Justice Fathima Beevi accomplished the unimaginable in the late 1980s and broke through the glass ceiling to become the first woman judge of the Supreme Court of India, passed away.
Justice Beevi was also appointed as the Governor of Tamil Nadu after her superannuation as Supreme Court judge.Kerala’s Health Minister Veena George condoled her death by saying that the demise of Justice Beevi was extremely painful.
The minister said that Justice Beevi made a mark as the first woman judge of the Supreme Court and as the Tamil Nadu Governor.
“She was a brave woman who had many records to her name. She was a personality who through her own life showed that willpower and a sense of purpose can overcome any adversity,” George said in a statement.
According to Live Law, Justice Fathima Beevi obtained her Bachelor of Law Degree from the Government Law College and enrolled as an advocate on 14 November 1950. She became the first female law graduate from Kerala. Following her graduation from Ernakulam Law College, Fatima began her career in the courts in her 50s. She was Kerala’s first Muslim woman to occupy the position of magistrate.
She soon rose through the ranks serving as the Munsiff in the Kerala Subordinate Judicial Services, as a Subordinate Judge, as a Chief Judicial Magistrate, as a District and session Judge, as a Judicial Member of Income Tax Appellate Tribunal.
Justice Beevi became High Court Judge in 1983 and Supreme Court Judge in 1989.
She was also the first Muslim judge to be appointed to any Higher Judiciary.
After her retirement, Justice Beevi first served as a member of the National Human Rights Commission, later she was appointed as Governor of Tamil Nadu.
Justice Beevi also served as Chancellor of Tamil Nadu University during her tenure as a Governor of the state.
She was awarded the Bharat Jyoti Award and the US-India Business Council (USIBC) Lifetime Achievement Award.
She was born at Pathanamthitta in the Kingdom of Travancore, now in the Indian state of Kerala, on 30 April 1927. She was the daughter of Annaveettil Meer Sahib and Khadeeja Beevi into Rowther Family. Her father persuaded Fathima Beevi to pursue a law degree after she graduated in Chemistry.